Algo hermoso termina


  Todos los días del mundo
                                           algo hermoso termina.

                                                     Jaroslav Seifert

Duélete: 
como a una vieja estrella fatigada
te ha dejado la luz. Y la criatura 
que iluminabas 
                       (y que iluminaba
tus ojos ciegos a las nimias cosas 
del mundo)
ha vuelto a ser mortal. 
Todo recobra 
su densidad, su peso, su volumen, 
ese pobre equilibrio que sostiene 
tu nuevo invierno. Alégrate. 
Tus vísceras ahora son otra vez tus vísceras
y no crudo alimento de zozobras. 
Ya no eres ese dios ebrio e incierto 
que te fue dado ser. Muerde
el hueso que dan, 
llega a su médula, 
recoge las migajas que deja la memoria.

© 2004, Piedad Bonnett
From: Tretas del débil

  Every day of the world
                                                     something beautiful ends.

                                                                   Jaroslav Seifert

Suffer:
as if you were an old, tired star, 
light has left you. And the creature
you lighted
                 (and who lighted
your eyes, blind to the world’s
trivial things)
is now mortal again. 
Everything recovers
its density, its weight, its volume,
the poor balance that supports
your new winter. Be glad. 
Your entrails are now again your entrails
and not coarse food of anxiety. 
You’re no longer that drunk and uncertain god
that you turned out to be. Bite
the bone they give you,
down to the marrow, 
pick up the crumbs memory leaves behind.

© Translation: 2005, Nicolás Suescún

Standing at Fearful Attention

Standing at fearful attention, we’re grateful 
to fear, which keeps us from going mad.
Decision and courage are bad
for our health; life without living is safer.

Adventurers whose adventures are history,
standing in fear we struggle against
ironic ghosts in our ongoing quest
for what we never were and won’t be.

Standing in fear with no voice of our own,
our heart ground up by our teeth, we are
the madmen, we’re our own ghosts.

A flock of sheep pursued by fear,
we live so together and so alone
that life’s meaning has disappeared.

Alexandre O’Neill (1962) , Translation: 1997, Richard Zenith

Perfilados de medo, agradecemos
o medo que nos salva da loucura.
Decisão e coragem valem menos
e a vida sem viver é mais segura.

Aventureiros já sem aventura,
perfilados de medo combatemos
irónicos fantasmas à procura
do que fomos, do que não seremos.

Perfilados de medo, sem mais voz,
o coração nos dentes oprimido,
os loucos, os fantasmas somos nós.

Rebanho pelo medo perseguido,
já vivemos tão juntos e tão sós
que da vida perdemos o sentido . . . 

© 1962, Alexandre O’Neill
From: Poesias Completas
Publisher: Assírio & Alvim, Lisbon, 2000

At the wheel…

 

…of a Chevrolet on the road to Sintra,
Through moonlight and dreams, on the deserted road,
I drive alone, drive almost slowly, and it almost
Seems to me, or I almost force myself to think it seems,
That I’m going down another road, another dream, another world,
That I’m going on without having left Lisbon, without Sintra to go to,
That I’m going on, and what is there to going on except not stopping, but going on?

I’ll spend the night in Sintra because I can’t spend it in Lisbon,
But, when I get to Sintra, I’ll be sorry I didn’t stay in Lisbon.
Always this groundless worry, no purpose, no consequence,
Always, always, always,
This excessive anguish for nothing at all,
On the road to Sintra, on the road to dreams, on the road to life

Alert to my subconscious movements at the wheel,
Around me, with me, leaps the car I borrowed.
I smile at the symbol, at thinking of it, and at turning right.
In how many borrowed things do I move through the world?
How many borrowed things do I drive as if they were mine?
How many borrowed things — oh God — am I myself?

To my left, a hovel — yes, a hovel — by the roadside.
To my right an open field, the moon far off.
The car, which seemed just now to give me freedom,
Is now something I’m shut up in,
That I can only drive shut up in,
That I can only tame if I include it, if it includes me.

To my left, back there, that modest, that more than modest hovel.
Life must be happy there: it’s not mine.
If someone saw me from the window, they’d think: Now that guy’s happy.

Maybe a child spying at the upstairs window
Would see me, in my borrowed car, as a dream, a fairy tale come true.
Maybe, for the girl who watched me, hearing my motor out the kitchen window,
On packed earth,
I’m some kind of prince of girls’ hearts,
And she’ll watch me sideways, out the window, past this curve where I lose myself.
Will I leave dreams behind me? Will the car?
I, the borrowed-car-driver, or the borrowed car I drive?

On the road to Sintra in moonlight, in sadness, before the fields and night,
Forlornly driving the borrowed Chevy,
I lose myself on the future road, I disappear in the distance I reach.

And in a terrible, sudden, violent, inconceivable desire
I speed up,
But my heart stayed back on a pile of rocks I veered from, seeing without seeing it,
At the door of the hovel —
My empty heart,
My dissatisfied heart,
My heart more human than me, more exact than life.

On the road to Sintra, near midnight, in moonlight, at the wheel,
On the road to Sintra, oh my weary imagination,
On the road to Sintra, ever nearer to Sintra,
On the road to Sintra, ever farther from me…

In The Collected Poems of Álvaro de CamposVol. 2 (1928–1935) . translated by Chris Daniels

 

Ao volante do Chevrolet pela estrada de Sintra,

Ao luar e ao sonho, na estrada deserta,

Sozinho guio, guio quase devagar, e um pouco

Me parece, ou me forço um pouco para que me pareça,

Que sigo por outra estrada, por outro sonho, por outro mundo,

Que sigo sem haver Lisboa deixada ou Sintra a que ir ter,

Que sigo, e que mais haverá em seguir senão não parar mas seguir?

Vou passar a noite a Sintra por não poder passá-la em Lisboa,

Mas, quando chegar a Sintra, terei pena de não ter ficado em Lisboa.

Sempre esta inquietação sem propósito, sem nexo, sem consequência,

Sempre, sempre, sempre,

Esta angústia excessiva do espírito por coisa nenhuma,

Na estrada de Sintra, ou na estrada do sonho, ou na estrada da vida…

Maleável aos meus movimentos subconscientes do volante,

Galga sob mim comigo o automóvel que me emprestaram.

Sorrio do símbolo, ao pensar nele, e ao virar à direita.

Em quantas coisas que me emprestaram guio como minhas!

Quanto me emprestaram, ai de mim!, eu próprio sou!

À esquerda o casebre — sim, o casebre — à beira da estrada.

À direita o campo aberto, com a lua ao longe.

O automóvel, que parecia há pouco dar-me liberdade,

É agora uma coisa onde estou fechado,

Que só posso conduzir se nele estiver fechado,

Que só domino se me incluir nele, se ele me incluir a mim.

À esquerda lá para trás o casebre modesto, mais que modesto.

A vida ali deve ser feliz, só porque não é a minha.

Se alguém me viu da janela do casebre, sonhará: Aquele é que é feliz.

Talvez à criança espreitando pelos vidros da janela do andar que está em cima

Fiquei (com o automóvel emprestado) como um sonho, uma fada real.

Talvez à rapariga que olhou, ouvindo o motor, pela janela da cozinha

No pavimento térreo,

Sou qualquer coisa do príncipe de todo o coração de rapariga,

E ela me olhará de esguelha, pelos vidros, até à curva em que me perdi.

Deixarei sonhos atrás de mim, ou é o automóvel que os deixa?

Eu, guiador do automóvel emprestado, ou o automóvel emprestado que eu guio?

Na estrada de Sintra ao luar, na tristeza, ante os campos e a noite,

Guiando o Chevrolet emprestado desconsoladamente,

Perco-me na estrada futura, sumo-me na distância que alcanço,

E, num desejo terrível, súbito, violento, inconcebível,

Acelero…

Mas o meu coração ficou no monte de pedras, de que me desviei ao vê-lo sem vê-lo,

À porta do casebre,

O meu coração vazio,

O meu coração insatisfeito,

O meu coração mais humano do que eu, mais exacto que a vida.

Na estrada de Sintra, perto da meia-noite, ao luar, ao volante,

Na estrada de Sintra, que cansaço da própria imaginação,

Na estrada de Sintra, cada vez mais perto de Sintra,

Na estrada de Sintra, cada vez menos perto de mim…

11-5-1928

Poesias de Álvaro de Campos. Fernando Pessoa. Lisboa: Ática, 1944 (imp. 1993).- 37

 

I chose part of this poem to say goodbye to someone today. I did not go the funeral. “Do you want me to go?”, I asked. He didn’t. I didn’t know his father, I have never met him, I heard stories of beautiful cars and saw fading photos of a once happy life.

 

Photo: Not really a Chevrolet at Bastelicaccia, Corsica, August 2018

GLOSS ON THE COMING OF AUTUMN

The body does not wait. Neither for us
nor for love. This groping of hands,
researching with such reticence
the warm, silky aridness
that twitches from embarrassment
in movements quick and random;
this groping attended not by us
but by a thirst, a memory, whatever
we know about touching the bared
body that does not wait; this groping
that doesn’t know, doesn’t see, doesn’t
dare to be afraid of feeling scared…

The body’s so hasty! All is over and done
when one of us, or when love, has come.

Translation: 1997, Richard Zenith

 

GLOSA À CHEGADA DO OUTONO
O corpo não espera. Não. Por nós
ou pelo amor. Este pousar de mãos,
tão reticente e que interroga a sós
a tépida secura acetinada,
a que palpita por adivinhada
em solitários movimentos vãos;
este pousar em que não estamos nós,
mas uma sede, uma memória, tudo
o que sabemos de tocar desnudo
o corpo que não espera: este pousar
que não conhece, nada vê, nem nada
ousa temer no seu temor agudo…Tem tanta pressa o corpo! E já passou,
quando um de nós ou quando o amor chegou.

© 1958, Jorge de Sena
From: Fidelidade
Publisher: Edições 70, Lisboa, 1988
Photo: Urbino, April 2018

A haze

I have in me like a haze
Which holds and which is nothing
A nostalgia for nothing at all,
The desire for something vague.

I’m wrapped by it
As by a fog, and I see
The final star shining
Above the stub in my ashtray.

I smoked my life. How uncertain
All I saw or read! All
The world is a great open book
That smiles at me in an unknown tongue


Tenho em mim como uma bruma
Que nada é nem contém
A saudade de coisa nenhuma,
O desejo de qualquer bem.

Sou envolvido por ela
Como por um nevoeiro
E vejo luzir a última estrela
Por cima da ponta do meu cinzeiro

Fumei a vida. Que incerto
Tudo quanto vi ou li!
E todo o mundo é um grande livro aberto
Que em ignorada língua me sorri.

Monday poetry comes on Wednesday because Fernando Pessoa was born on this day in Lisbon 130 years ago. 

Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith

Photo: crossing back to Porto, May 2018

Little things

Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things,
Great deeds of valour and might,
That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.
But it is the doing of old things,
Small acts that are just and right;
And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;
In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when

          you want to play—
Dear, those are the things that count.

And, dear, it isn’t the new ways
Where the wonder-seekers crowd
That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.
But it is keeping to true ways,
Though the music is not so loud,
And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along

          alone;
In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a

          groan—
Dear, these are the things that count.

My dear, it isn’t the loud part
Of creeds that are pleasing to God,
Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or

          song.
But it is the beautiful proud part
Of walking with feet faith-shod;
And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go

          wrong;
In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when

          the way seems long—

Dear, these are the things that count.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The Things that Count

 

What I’ve failed to write

131 days ago life took a weird, sharp turn after a few months of my driving it erratically in and out of course. Because I am prone to think of my life as a movie or perhaps as a series of pilot episodes in shows that never get aired, I failed to realize that maybe real life was happening. And I have a problem with this. My mind anticipates all kinds of scenarios, dramatic dialogues and plot twists, failing to see what’s right in front of me, failing to hear Caetano‘s warning that life is after all real and skewed. I insist on other melodies, I insist on not getting tired of hoping that one day I will get to be everything.

My homeless heart
Wants to keep the world
In me

131 days ago we coincided in space and time; he told me I was making him travel, I didn’t realize he was making me come home. For once, life was not about being the rebel in a made up cause, it was not about coming up with the perfect character for the occasion, it was not about trying to be perfect, it was not about packing and going somewhere trying to find whatever is needed at the moment to feel more alive. It was about staying. I didn’t know that to stay took a special kind of courage. I have spent well over seven thousand days of my adult life being adventurously brave, going everywhere, doing everything, preferably on my own. Along the way I collected all the clichés of falling madly, deeply and foolishly in love, of getting married and divorced, of hurting and getting hurt and feeling that I have committed the worse sin my twelve years of Catholic, yet somewhat liberal, education helped me identify, I have wasted my time and have, of course, ended up being wasted by it. Staying, in the same way as getting older, is not for the faint of heart. Staying means you have to face life as it is not as you think it was meant to be.

131 days ago I begun to understand what years of fictional manipulation have done to me, how they have created the most unrealistic expectations and contributed to an almost complete emotional disarrangement. In the midst of my inability to deal with what was happening, I have read these wise words:

Your deepest beliefs about seduction were carefully crafted by high-capitalist strategists. Lust and fantasy are opiates of the masses, easily manipulated into shapes that human animals fall for, over and over again.

I have never really taken advice columns very seriously, probably because I tend to be a bit of a snob, but every single word Heather Havrilesky poured into her column of February 28, struck a chord and I understood that yes, it was really about surrendering to reality with no futile embellishments. And still, 131 days were not enough to learn that the assumptions one makes about one self and others are also created by all the nonsense around you and that they are not real. For 131 days I have promised myself, almost everyday, that I was not going to fall in that trap, I was going to let life get real because it might not be the most glamorous or exciting place to be but you have at least a chance of not seeing life disappear without getting to live it. But, self-sabotage is a powerful force, “a way of avoiding that moment of showing up, of facing potential loss, of being strong enough and courageous enough to surrender to the unknown — but also, to surrender to the goodness of ordinary human beings.” 131 days ago,  getting hurt living my fictional life was easy enough to deal with because fictional feelings tend to be overtly dramatic but shallow.

Getting hurt in real life gets you broken.

References

Caetano Veloso, O quereres, Coração Vagabundo

William Shakespeare, Richard II 

Bette Davis

Ask Polly 

Out of place

 

Homens que são como lugares mal situados
Homens que são como casas saqueadas
Que são como sítios fora dos mapas
Como pedras fora do chão
Como crianças órfãs
Homens sem fuso horário
Homens agitados sem bússola onde repousem

Homens que são como fronteiras invadidas
Que são como caminhos barricados
Homens que querem passar pelos atalhos sufocados
Homens sulfatados por todos os destinos
Desempregados das suas vidas

Homens que são como a negação das estratégias
Que são como os esconderijos dos contrabandistas
Homens encarcerados abrindo-se com facas

Homens que são como danos irreparáveis
Homens que são sobreviventes vivos
Homens que são como sítios desviados
Do lugar

Daniel Faria, Poesia

Men who are like places in the wrong place
Men who are like plundered houses
Like locations not on maps
Like stones not on the ground
Like orphaned children
Men without a time zone
Agitated men with no compass to rest on

Men who are like violated borders  
Like barricaded roads
Men who are drawn to choked pathways
Men spattered by all destinies
Laid off from their lives

Men who are like the negation of strategies
Like the hiding-places of smugglers
Incarcerated men opening themselves with knives

Men who are like irreparable damage
Men who are barely living survivors
Men who are like places wrenched
Out of place

Daniel Faria translated by Richard Zenith

 

Today I start counting days of absence because I failed to understand all the days of Being

Not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.

Herman Hesse, Siddhartha 

Irrevocable condition

It has taken me half a lifetime and a little over 100 days to realize that this where I belong. Because I eventually had to come home.

Largo dos Leōes, Porto, April 2018

References

James Baldwin

The will to

I sing the will to love:
the will that carves the will to live,
the will that saps the will to hurt,
the will that kills the will to die;
the will that made and keeps you warm,
the will that points your eyes ahead,
the will that makes you give, not get,
a give and get that tell us what you are:
how much a god, how much a human.
I call on you to live the will to love.

CredoAlfred Kreymborg

 

Photo, Campo dos Mártires da Pátria (Porto, May 2018)

Unlikely

 

Me aged 2.  It didn’t seem plausible but I did grow up. And, surprisingly enough, not into a fearless tomboy.

How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life”  ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations